Kano – As Nigeria rings in 2016, the ever-present threat of violence by Boko Haram hangs heavy over Africa’s most populous country, despite official claims that the battle against the Islamist group has been “technically” won.
After setting a December 31 deadline to rid his country of Boko Haram, President Muhammadu Buhari said: “I think technically we’ve won the war because people are going back into their neighbourhoods.”
In his New Year message to the nation, Buhari commended the military for “significantly curtailing the insurgency” but acknowledged there was “still a lot of work to be done in the area of security.
“This government will not consider the matter concluded until the terrorists have been completely routed and normality restored to all parts of the country that have been adversely affected by the Boko Haram insurgency,” he said.
But despite the official assurances, violence and fear continue to stalk several major cities in Nigeria’s troubled northeast.
Late last month, more than 50 people were killed in a 48-hour wave of attacks in the mainly Muslim region that were blamed on the jihadists.
Boko Haram has resorted to suicide bombers – many of them children – to wage its war for an independent Islamic state in the country. The extremist group has also spread its bombing campaign to neighbouring Cameroon, Chad and Niger. – AFP